5 Non-Food Ideas for Rewards at School

I am a strong proponet of rewarding children for good behavior, working hard, reaching their goals, etc.  I am, however, a little concerned by the frequency in which we reward children with food.

From a food allergy perspective, using food as a reward often alienates children who may not be able to consume it.  I cannot tell you how many timesReward Stickers  schools reward children with pizza and ice-cream parties.  What kind of message is this sending to all of our children? It certainly isn’t one of inclusion. Children with food allergies might think that they are not worthy of receiving a reward; after all, the school didn’t take the time to make sure everyone could enjoy the reward.

Secondly, this teaches all of our children that food (particularly junk food and sweets) is a reward.  This link between reward and food is concerning because it can and does lead to emotional eating, which is not healthy.

So how do you reward children in way that ensures everyone can participate?  Why not consider non-food rewards?

Here are some non-food ideas for rewards at school:

1) “Caught Being Good” coupon book.

Last year, my daughter’s teacher had the brilliant idea (without prompting from me) to reward each child with “classroom bucks” through out the year whenever they did something good in class. By the end of the year they had earned a full “Caught Being Good” coupon book which contained activities they liked to do, such as bring in a toy from home, read their favorite book, etc.  They had a lot of fun and it truly taught the value of hardwork.

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